FIFA World Cup and Racial Tension: Protesters in Sao Paulo

Fifa World Cup
While the FIFA world cup kicks off this week, the people of Brazil have been protesting against the enormous amount of government spending put towards preparing to host the games. The Brazilian government has spent over 11 billion on the World Cup. Many of the protesters believe this money should be going to the people of Brazil, for causes such as healthcare or education. The clash between the protesters and the military police has been tumultuous and violent. Amnesty international gave the Brazilian military police a yellow card for excessive violence towards protesters in Sao Paulo. The police issued an official statement saying that the were the rioters were blocking the road that goes to the main stadium.

Carlos Weis, a public defender employed by the state said, “This kind of police action is completely against the law.” Several internet sites released shocking photos of the rioters, including a photo of a journalist being escorted from the scene on a gurney. Racial violence and class struggle plays a large part in these protests. The police arrested 20 indigenous people who were protesting against the demolition of the Indian museum as part of the renovation process for the FIFA world cup. Some of the photos show indigenous people dressed in native garb dancing as a way to protest Brazilian President Dilma Roussef’s policy toward different native ethnic groups, alongside the excessive spending on the World Cup.

There has also been criticism of Brazil being represented accurately during the entertainment portion of the FIFA World Cup. The entertainment featured two headlining American artists, Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull, performing mostly in English. Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte opened for the performers. Juca Kfouri,a top Brazilian soccer journalist called the performance “pasteurized and boring” and said that the entertainment contained “lots of luxury and little heart.” From the infrastructure issues to the entertainment, the FIFA world cup in Brazil is not representing the Brazilian people accurately, and the government is primarily leaving its people at the wayside as they spend billions attempting to please a global sports audience.

The large amount of riots and protestors demonstrate that there are a lot of racial and class issues that have not been fully addressed by the Brazilian government. For a long time, Brazil has publicly addressed the diversity of its people as a “racial democracy.” However, this representation in light of the FIFA world cup protests in Sao Paulo seems to be less than accurate. Brazil does have a history of slavery and racial prejudice. Portuguese settlers enslaved indigenous people and took over the country. Now, just like in the United States, slavery is over and illegal, but many Brazilians believe that race does interfere with quality of life. In a study that interviewed 15 thousand Brazilians, 63.7 percent believe that race interferes with general quality of life, which includes education rates, illiteracy, treatment in the justice system, and treatment by the police. Obviously, shown by the FIFA world cup protestors in Sao Paulo, racial tension and unequal treatment plays a large role in the Brazilian people’s dissatisfaction with their government’s policies.

By: Louise Webster

New York Times
CBS News
Brazil Chronicle

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